Safety of civilians and aid workers crucial in South Sudan - Statement by Toby Lanzer, Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan

Juba, 3 January 2014: “Over the past two weeks violence in South Sudan has displaced around 200,000 persons from their homes and affected many hundreds of thousands of people indirectly. All parties to the conflict have a responsibility to make sure that civilians are spared from the fighting, do everything possible to restore calm, and ensure that law and order prevails.

Aid agencies are scaling up their work, especially in towns most heavily struck by violence and in rural sites to which civilians have fled in order to seek safety. The largest site of civilians in need is in Awerial, Lakes State, where up to 76,000 people have gathered and aid agencies are now providing food and non-food items as well as basic healthcare there. In the coming days we are stepping up our work and will also make available clean water and latrines for people stuck in Awerial.

The work of aid agencies is based on internationally recognised principles, in particular impartiality whereby aid is provided solely on the basis of the need of affected civilians. We call on all parties to facilitate aid agencies’ access to civilians, and to protect and respect humanitarian activities, workers, and property at all times. Non-state actors and participants in the hostilities are also legally accountable for facilitating and respecting the work, national and international staff, and property of aid agencies.

We have issued a plan which will enable us quickly to provide more assistance to the people who have been most severely affected by the crisis, as well as provide ongoing help to people who left Sudan and sought refuge in South Sudan’s states of Unity and Upper Nile. Our plan is for January, February, and March and includes providing protection, water, food, shelter and healthcare. In order to implement it, aid agencies now require US$166 million from the international donor community. This is the time to stand with the people of South Sudan and over the coming days and weeks we will do all we can to do just that.”

For more information, contact:

Tapiwa Gomo, Head of Communication, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in South Sudan (gomo@un.org / +211 922406079)

Michelle Delaney, Public Information Officer, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in South Sudan (delaneym@un.org / +211922406078)

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.